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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Beaner's Versus Biggby's

From Juan Tornoe's Blog

I'm not sure if anybody else had heard about the Beaner's Coffee controversy of years ago. I'm only blogging about it now, because there were plenty of other things I wanted to blog about before getting to this one. As a grad student around 06/07 I recall sitting in a class, and a fellow student had a mug that read "Beaner's Coffee." Being myself one who enjoys eating beans, there was that part of my mind that took offense and figured some coffee shop named itself after the coffee beans, but tried to be creative/funny, and called it "Beaner's." So of course my response was fuck that coffee shop. I figured that Beaner's wasn't a local shop nor even one in our state because I hadn't heard mention of it until this student talked about it with another classmate. A few years ago I finally decided to do research, and found out that yes Beaner's was a coffee shop, originally founded and established in the Midwest in the mid 90's. 

I came across Juan Tornoe's blog, where an article by Jeff Karoub is featured, on the subject dating back to 2007. The article is featured on Tornoe's blog, because he is cited by Karoub; emphasized by being displayed in bold lettering. It's noted in Karoub's article that Bob Fish, chief executive and co-founder of Beaner's, stated "That just doesn't really fall within our mission to have a name that is derogatory. We felt it was important to do the right thing and change the name." So what Fish did was pretty much change the name from "Beaner's" to "Biggby's," because apparently the company wanted to keep the "B" logo. I applaud this type of initiative, even though it took over ten years for them to realize that the term "Beaner's" was used as a pejorative. I understand that "beaner" is also used in coffee lingo, I'm not exactly sure how, but according to Doug Powers, it's "in reference to the coffee beans through which hot water is filtered." I don't know how that works, nor if it truly is used in coffee connoisseur circles, I just know for sure, that the owners had to know the negative connotation of the word, I know the midwest isn't the southwest, but I'm sure they had their fair share of racial tension, and they must have had Mexican laborers back in the day, and they must have had people informing them of the "other" meaning of their franchise's name.  Something that Fish admits to, saying that there wasn't "any broad resistance or protests against the name, just people asking if the company knew about the connotation" (In Karoub's article via Tornoe's blog).





However, there's pendejos like Doug Powers, who goes on to mock the "pc police." He brings up why not protest Taco Bell and their "Run for the border" slogan, which technically was protested, well, it wasn't their slogan, it was their mascot, the "Yo quiero Taco Bell" chihuahua. Then George Lopez voiced the chihuahua in Beverly Hills Chihuahua, and then I only heard crickets. I remember walking down the street in my hometown with my younger cousin, and us seeing a scrawny chihuahua looking dog, and him pointing at it, cackling and in a voice that was too deep for an 11 year old, saying "Yo quiero Taco Bell!"

Sorry for the tangent. Anyhow besides the Taco Bell slogan, Powers essentially attacks the PC police and says that he should feel offended since there are so many "Irish Pubs," with "Irish" names such as Rosie O'Grady's, McNally's, etc. etc. He pretty much just goes ridiculous trying to mock the PC Police. Something he did say that I thought was funny, was "if this were common-place, every eatery in Washington, D.C., would be called Weasels." Okay, that jab at politicians, I can admit had a tinge of funny in it.  The tone of Powers post overall is ignorant. I understand he's making a mockery about how far we allow political correctness to be pushed. Tornoe a marketing consultant, tries to argue that "Hispanics" are becoming the majority, therefore companies need to adjust in order to get a chunk of the "Hispanic" coin. But it's more than that. Both try to underscore the main issue, that the word "Beaner" is a derogatory term commonly used to refer to a minority group. One tries to hide his white guilt and racist outlook by trying to mock political correctness, while the other, a Hispanic/Latino, takes the capitalist approach and views "other hispanics" with dollar signs in his eyes ($_$).

Again, both leave out the fact "beaner" is a loaded term, that like many other terms it was a tool used in the oppressive machine. Sayings and symbols remind us of what we are in this society, and they are used to keep us in our place. We feel bad about it, we accept it, or some are strong enough to ignore it and they can move on, shattering the perceptions of company owners that are trying to play to a certain crowd, not realizing the other crowd will soon outnumber they crowd that currently believes them to be creative and funny. Maybe I just spend too much time analyzing and overanalyzing what I see, hear, and read-the curse of a person in literature maybe? No, more like the fortune to have been around people who helped me open my eyes to such issues that might seem minor or trivial, and gave me the analytical tools or the insight to be critical of such things, including people like Powers and Tornoe.
But I found hope when I came across a blog by Nikki Humitz, who is able to say in shorter more concise blog post what it took me 5 long drawn out paragraphs to get to. It's a blog she kept for a class she took. She was of the mindset that didn't find offense in the name "Beaner's" and that the company simply was trying to be funny, but she admittedly recognizes her own ignorance, and she essentially puts it best in her short blog post by writing that "the name didn't have to INTEND to be offensive to BE offensive. I was not thinking about it from a different point of view, a point of view that would take it offensively." I believe her blog was for a class in teaching, specifically for Diversity in Children's Literature according to her first post, nonetheless, if the class was able to bring her perspective on an issue that didn't directly relate to her class, then she has learned to think in a more critical way about herself and why she absorbs things a certain way, however she is open to relearn, and maybe even unlearn in order to learn. I believe that this is something that Xicano/a Studies does. It offers perspective, helping to deconstruct what we know, in order to consider another perspective, that maybe we had not thought about before, because early on we are simply indoctrinated, and not really taught to think critically, but it's Xicano/a Studies courses, usually in college that offer the tools for critical thinking, by questioning the history we think we know, which in turn helps us think critically about what we read or see such as a "Beaner's" coffee mug, and what this means to us on a personal level.

Yeah, I don't know how I was able to make this about Xicano/a Studies at the end, but there you have it.

XX
c/s

Sites For Taco Bell Chihuahuha Pix above:
Taco Bell Chihuahua Dies @ 15
Gidget Dies

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